” … God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water …” (1 Peter 3:20)

Eight only specifies the amount of the few; it doesn’t define “few”. “Few” describes a small group of unspecified number, unless the author chooses to be more particular; which, in this verse, Peter has.

So why do people think that we can tie down “few” to any number? The only other (non-colloquial) words of this ilk are “couple” and “several”. Both these terms also describe a small group of unspecified number, although “couple” usually does specify two: the verb means “to join”. Since “couple” can be specified by the number two, we might fall into the fallacy of thinking that both “few” and “several” also specify particular numbers. They don’t: by definition, they are indefinite.

copyright Troy Grisgonelle 2007.

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